Terror in Titty Town?

My cervix may be far from D day but my brain is not. I can’t seem to turn my thoughts away from the subject of boobs. Nursing. Nipples….more specifically pain and cracked nipples.

This is a very brief tale of woe of my initiation into breastfeeding and then a how to for doing it differently.

Learning to nurse Naya was excruciating.  She showed off for the nurses when they came in to help us start with latching and nursing at the hospital and then decided she wasn’t going to put the same effort into nursing at home.

My biggest mistake? When she latched on and it hurt, I used to rip her off of my breast. Then I’d let her fumble about as if she would know what to do on her own and got frustrated when it didn’t work…ending in yet another bad latch and yes, another ripping off.

You can imagine how long it took and how much pain and suffering we both endured. Another hugely painful mistake? Not using nipple cream after each nursing session while I healed.

God help me, I may have let her nurse through cotton on a couple of occasions because I swore my nipple would actually get torn off if I tried to remove the pad any more than I already had.

My mom, who didn’t nurse either my sister or myself repeatedly urged me to switch to a bottle and seemed both perplexed and annoyed that I insisted on keeping at it.

Like everything else that is part of becoming a parent, there is a huge learning curve involved.  Breastfeeding is something that needs to be learned to do.

It is as natural as having sex, but don’t go trying to tell me you got that perfect your first time out…or in…or out…you get the picture.

I was determined and in the end emerged victorious and proud because instead of surrendering I remained true to my belief that breast is best and found the way to do it. Naya and I suffered through three weeks of toe curling, tears down my face pain and then it was sweet and simple slurping from them on. She nursed until she was 11 months old.

With Sienna, I learned what it meant to experience a blocked duct. And I learned that to open said blocked duct when the warm shower massage doesn’t cut it involves a Dr. repeatedly pricking your nipple with a needle. Sound painful?  Know that it’s not nearly as painful as the blocked duct is. She nursed until she was 13 months old.

A word on pumping milk and using a bottle: if you can do it, power to you. I’m envious and happy for you all at once. I could likely get more milk out of my elbow than I ever managed to pump out of either breast. I knew the girls were nourished because they were thriving and growing, but if the piddly 1 oz of milk mocking me from the bottom of that little bottle where to be used as any kind of gauge, malnutrition would have been assumed. And that’s after over an hour of pumping with a Medela electric pump at the prime time of day to pump.

I’m over that now and relieved that Naya’s first words weren’t cusses. They easily could have been.

So with baby three, I thought it would be useful to remind myself and nursing mom’s everywhere about resources to get you – or keep you – on track with breastfeeding.

1) Be in the know.

There is a plethora of breastfeeding support to be found locally and online. If you’re a surfer girl, Breastfeeding.com, it’s a good place to begin as it has articles, forums and a fairly comprehensive Q&A with real and useful replies. For hands on, person to person information or support, ask your local hospital or health clinic if they know of groups or go online and search for “breast feeding support groups”.

You’ll find that there are probably a few organized groups where you can find other moms and get the information and support you seek.  Conduct a search for “Nursing Consultant” to find specialists who can come to you or answer your questions by phone.

Another phenomenal resource? Local or online mom’s groups or social groups for mom’s with babies and toddlers. Not only are you likely to get allll the best practical information, but a commiserating ear as well.

2) Recognize the signs that you need a pair of trained eyes on your boobs.

Hot and often red areas, tenderness or full on pain that makes you want to walk about topless everywhere, hard areas or masses. Get checked out. Call your GP, a lactation consultant, or walk into a clinic for assistance. This is important, can be serious, and trained help will significantly alleviate the issue and your nerves.

3) Creams/lubes & homeopathic remedies.

Taken orally or applied to the nipple aid in the healing of the skin if it gets sore, raw or down right cracked as you and your baby learn to nurse together. Where to get good stuff? Visit your local health store or nursing center.

Mom-centric cafe’s servicing mom’s with young babies often carry a couple of lines of better known and great quality options of lotions that are safe to use while nursing.

A brand I found useful in keeping the breast pad from sticking as I healed between nursing is Lanolin Breast feeding cream by Lansinoh. Another is Bag Balm. That’s right. Bag Balm…for udders. Shut up, it works look for the little green and red square tin.

Here’s hoping you can avoid a visit through titty town terror. Enjoy breastfeeding!